The Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $1 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding (in addition to $53.6 million in prior-year appropriations) to the FutureGen Industrial Alliance (Alliance) to build FutureGen 2.0—a clean coal repowering program and CO2 pipeline and storage network. The FutureGen 2.0 Program is implemented through two separate cooperative agreements (awards) that will run concurrently to achieve the FutureGen 2.0 objectives: the Oxy-Combustion Large-Scale Test and the Pipeline and Regional CO2 Storage Reservoir Project. Each award has the same management team but separate partners, duration, and cost. However, the individual awards are integrated in a manner such that the achievement of FutureGen 2.0 objectives is dependent on the success of both awards.
The Alliance, teaming with Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) and Air Liquide Process & Construction, Inc. (Air Liquide), is responsible for the Oxy-Combustion Large-Scale Test portion of FutureGen 2.0 and, using advanced coal oxy-combustion technology, will repower Unit 4 of the Meredosia Energy Center located approximately 20 miles west of Jacksonville, IL. Efforts thus far have included development of a preliminary design suggesting that the repowering project is both technically and economically feasible.
The Alliance is also responsible for the Pipeline and Regional CO2 Storage Reservoir Project portion of FutureGen 2.0, which involves the selection and development of a host storage site for CO2 captured from Meredosia Unit 4. The Alliance will also establish a CO2 pipeline network from Meredosia Unit 4 to a new injection well and associated storage site infrastructure, a geologic storage research complex, an education and training center, and a visitor center. The Alliance has selected a storage site in Morgan County, IL and drilled a characterization well through the overlying geologic strata and target storage formation. Research to date indicates that the saline water-bearing Mt. Simon Sandstone geologic formation and overlying rock seals are well suited for the safe and permanent storage of the injected CO2. The Alliance has also completed preliminary designs for the pipeline and injection well infrastructure as well as the visitor, research, and training facilities. This joint effort will result in the world’s first full-scale oxy-combustion repowering of an existing power plant fully integrated with CO2 transport and permanent geologic storage.
DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has identified oxycombustion as a potentially viable approach for repowering existing coal-fired facilities to capture CO2 for geologic storage. Conventional coal combustion technology uses air to burn coal, which results in a high-nitrogen flue gas with a dilute concentration of CO2. However, oxy-combustion technology separates oxygen from the air, allowing for coal to be burned in a boiler designed to produce a flue gas with concentrated CO2. Additional technology then purifies and compresses the CO2 for pipeline transport to the geologic storage host site for safe, permanent storage. The oxy-combustion technology used for FutureGen 2.0 is anticipated to create a near-zero emissions plant by capturing and compressing at least 90 percent of the plant’s generated CO2 and eliminating almost all of the sulfur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX), particulate, and mercury pollutants from plant emissions. The coal-fired oxy-combustion technology has been successfully pilot-tested by B&W at their research facility in Alliance, OH.
Using proven pipeline technology, the compressed and purified CO2 will be transported approximately 30 miles to the east where it will be injected into the Mt. Simon saline formation. The CO2 pipeline will originate at the Meredosia power plant site and transport approximately 1 million metric tons (MMT) per year of compressed and purified CO2 captured at the Meredosia plant. The plant is expected to generate 25 terawatts of low-carbon electricity and the storage field is expected to accept a minimum of 20 MMT (i.e., 1 MMT annually over 20 years) of CO2 over the projected lifespan (20 years minimum) of the power plant.
DOE, in conjunction with the Illinois State Geological Survey through the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), has performed assessments of the geology available for CO2 storage in central and southern Illinois. The CO2 will be stored within the Mt. Simon Sandstone geologic formation, which is well known for its depth, CO2 storage capacity, and thick overlying rock seals that will contain the CO2. The practices used to store the CO2 are very similar to those used for safe storage of natural gas, which occurs on a large scale in Illinois. The Alliance will execute a monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) program in order to provide a full accounting of the stored CO2 and confirm its permanence within the geologic formation.
The combustion of fossil fuels for electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States and the world. Future federal legislation and/or regulation may further limit CO2 emissions from U.S. power generation. Efforts to control CO2 emissions from this sector are underway through the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
CCS could virtually eliminate CO2 emissions from power plants that use fossil fuels through the separation of CO2 from plant flue gas and its subsequent compression, purification, and transport via pipeline to underground geologic formations for permanent storage. Before this process can be widely implemented, however, a number of technical and operational challenges must first be overcome by methods that do not substantially raise the cost of the electricity generated from the power plant. Cost-effective methodologies suitable for CCS application are currently being investigated.
The overall benefit of FutureGen 2.0 will be to ensure that the United States remains competitive in a carbon constrained economy while serving as a model to the nation for reducing CO2 emissions. Initial benefits will include the jobs created in Illinois by the construction of the plant’s oxy-combustion repowering infrastructure, CO2 pipeline, CO2 injection and monitoring wells, and the planned research, visitor, education, and training facilities. Additional benefits will be realized through the preservation of jobs at the power plant and new, permanent employees responsible for operating and maintaining the transport pipeline and CO2 storage facility. Furthermore, new jobs associated with the operation of the geologic storage research complex, education and training center, and visitor center will be created.
Ongoing benefits to the United States as a whole will occur through the availability of proven life extension technology for older, existing coal-fired power plants; training of future operators for careers in coal plant repowering; and construction of future CO2 pipeline networks, storage facilities, and the state-of-the-art international training center. The FutureGen 2.0 awards also present unique advantages:
Repowering of an existing coal-fired power plant with an innovative air separation unit, oxy-combustion boiler and associated flue gas cleanup equipment, and a novel CO2 compression and purification unit resulting in the potential for over 90 percent CO2 capture.
Development of a CO2 transmission infrastructure directly coupled to a deep saline CO2 storage repository.
Demonstration that Illinois coal can be an environmentally clean domestic energy option for base load electric generation that can save mining, manufacturing, engineering, and construction jobs in the power generation industries, as well as local and national jobs that support those industries with cars, trucks, mining equipment, housing, and other basic needs.
Provision of a technical and economic basis for repowering or retrofitting coal-fired units in Illinois as well as nationwide that otherwise may not meet anticipated environmental regulations.
Support for State of Illinois goals regarding the deployment of Clean Coal Facilities and regional CO2 storage.
Addressing oxy-combustion technology complementary to DOE’s other large-scale IGCC and post-combustion CCS projects.
The overall goal of FutureGen 2.0 is to help reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power generation in the United States by implementing and testing innovative technologies that will enable the nation to remain competitive in a carbon-constrained economy and become a world leader in carbon capture and storage.
The key goals of the Oxy-Combustion Large-Scale Test are to:
Be the first-of-its-kind commercial-scale, oxy-fired repowering in the world.
Exhibit the full integration of an air separation unit and an innovative CO2 compression and purification unit into a full-scale utility application for electric power generation.
Repower an existing 202-megawatt plant with the oxy-combustion technology to generate ~170 MWe of low-carbon electricity for delivery to the power grid.
Validate the technical and economic feasibility of the oxy-combustion technology for utility power plant applications.
Be a low-carbon and Near Zero Emissions Plant.
Treat 100 percent of the flue gas and remove more than 90 percent of the CO2, resulting in the capture of approximately 1.0 MMT per year of CO2 from the plant.
The key goals of the Pipeline and Regional CO2 Storage Reservoir Project are to:
Facilitate validation of the technical feasibility and economic viability of near-zero emission energy from a coal-fired baseload electric power plant.
Verify the effectiveness, safety, and permanence of CO2 storage in saline formations.
Establish standardized technologies and protocols for reliable and economic CO2 MVA.
Gain domestic and global acceptance of the FutureGen 2.0 concept and facilitate broad deployment of both new and repowered oxy-combustion coupled with CCS.
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